|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Game Freak||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Nintendo / The Pokemon Company||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: April 22, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1 (up to 8 online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Philip Hanan
April 30, 2007 - 10 years ago, America was bombarded by creatures with strange powers. These powers included mesmerizing kids to capture them and the power to cause seizures on Japanese televisions. 10 years later, after some of the creatures lost their power to hypnotize humans and cause seizures (thank goodness), new ones landed on our shores to keep us in control. Over 100 new Pokémon are invading along with some classic ones that used to be all the rage.
Like all Pokémon games, the story is simple. A young male or female leaves home with a fire, water, or grass type Pokémon. They travel through several towns in order to fight 8 Gym Leaders who carry a badge. Defeat the Gym Leader and you earn the badge which enables you to use special moves and makes certain high level Pokémon listen to your commands in battle. 8 Badges will earn you the right to face the Elite Four and become the Pokémon Champion of your region. Along the way, you'll face evil villains bent on using Pokémon for their own evil schemes and other trainers who will help you become the best Pokémon trainer that you can be.
The gameplay is always the same: Find a trainer or get attacked by a Pokémon in the wild and you'll go into battle mode. In battle mode, you pick one of four moves and attack the other Pokémon by trying to use strong moves against weak moves. You also try to put a stronger element type Pokémon against a weaker. Fire beats Grass, Grass Beats Water, Water beats Fire, etc. Every win gains you experience points and a certain amount of experience points will level your Pokémon up. Every time you level up, your Pokémon becomes stronger and can learn new moves. Most Pokémon will evolve once or twice during the game based upon your level. Levels max out at 100.
The other goal in the game is to complete the Pokémon Prof.'s Pokédex. In order to do that, you must weaken wild Pokémon in battle, then capture them in Pokéballs of different strengths. There are usually anywhere from 150-250 Pokémon in one game. Some games' Pokedexes connect with each other, so you may have to combine your Pokémon together to complete a Pokédex of 386. In fact, the Pokémon: Diamond/Pearl Versions have an unlockable Pokédex which features around 490 Pokémon.
The game is filled with lots of items to help you out, such as items that teach Pokémon new moves, items to repel wild Pokémon, and items to heal your Pokémon. There are also many buildings filled with people who will teach you gameplay techniques, give you free items, and ask for help of some kind. The amount of items and type depends on how new your Pokémon game is. Pokémon: Pearl Version, basically, isn't too different in style than the other Pokémon games, but there is some slight difference between every copy released in the same year, such as Diamond and Pearl versions.
Pokémon: Pearl Version features a few different Pokémon than Diamond Version, but that's about the only difference between the two. The story and layout is somewhat different than past Pokémon games, as your decisions will affect how the story plays out. For example, I became a boy and an owner of Piplup, my first starter water Pokémon ever (I love penguins). When I met Dawn, the first third main character in a Pokémon game, she said that if I had chosen Chimchar, we would have the same Pokémon. I'm pretty certain that she was programmed to choose a different Pokémon every time, but Chimchar owners can test this out. Another story difference is that all 3 starter Pokémon are used, as your friend (not Rival) uses one just like Dawn does. Never before were there 3 characters to take them all. Poor Prof. Rowan... He has no Pokémon left.
Your quest in this game is no different than all the rest; however, your journey to become a Pokémon master was rather unexpected. First of all, the main character doesn't know the Pokémon Prof. because he doesn't even live in his/her town. Second, there is nowhere to buy/borrow a Pokémon in the first town, so you find one by plain accident. You'll go through lots of battles in this game including the 8 Gym Leaders, who have slightly different elemental Pokémon than most of the old Gym Leaders had. In the end, you'll face the Elite 4 like always, but unfortunately, even with the GBA Pokémon cartridge connection which allows you to transfer GBA Pokémon, there is no way to access the other islands. It makes me miss the Gold/Silver/Crystal Versions.
During your adventure, you'll run into another group of thugs called Team Galactic who want to use the power of Pokémon to make the world better. Isn't the world already better with Pokémon? Well, apparently not enough for Team Galactic, so you'll have to rescue people and defeat the evil menace just like all Pokémon games. You won't always battle alone in this game like you mostly did in the old games. You'll team up in different areas, and sometimes you'll even face two Pokémon in the wild if you're teamed up. The game is pretty easy for the first few hours of gameplay, but the difficulty definitely gets harder because tag team battles are featured early. You really need to have at least two high level Pokémon in order to survive the battles, but the more the merrier because some tag team members will have 3 on them, so you'll be facing 6. Defeat one Pokémon, and another will be summoned. Fortunately, you don't have to worry about using two Pokémon alternately very often because the Exp. Share is found quite early in the game. I recommend keeping a Machop with you because their moves work well on almost all Pokémon.
Other than battling, the game still resembles old Pokémon games with its many chatty people, the Safari Zone, and very simple towns. This Pokémon game uses the DS to give the towns better color and some 3D detail, which is an enjoyment to view after so many similar 2D towns. Technically, the ground and sprites are 2D like many SNES games, but the buildings and trees are all built in 3D.
The music is kicking, but nothing you'd want to play at a game music concert. It's not any better than in the old Pokémon games, but it's hard to imagine a Pokémon game without the same old school-istic music. Sound effects are higher quality, but the only sound effects are during battles.
The controls of the game really change the gameplay itself this time around. Your Pokémon bag is already organized extremely well, so you shouldn't have any trouble finding anything. Also, you can pick up a Pokétch watch for your bottom screen, which will give you lots of great info without having to go through menus to find what you need. Just press a button on the bottom screen and you access everything from Pokémon health levels to the current time.